January 2015 By Naini Setalvad When you eat consciously, keeping aware of the food’s specific benefit to the body, you generate high energy for yourself, says Naini Setalvad To achieve excellence in life, the tool is our body, and its fuel the food we put in. Better the fuel, more glorious the body. – Shri Aurobindo We are what we eat. You probably have heard that. But did you know there are certain foods that help to boost performance and increase efficiency? The human body requires good quality food to help it perform at top notch levels. Whether you are a child, a woman, a college student, a person near retirement age, a stay-at-home parent, or a corporate executive, food affects your abilty to triumph in your everyday life. Eating a wide variety of organic, seasonal and regional foods from all food groups is your key to adding that extra punch to life. Organic foods especially grains, pulses, spices are easily available around the country. Carbohydrates Your brain’s source of energy is glucose, and this is primarily supplied by carbohydrates. The following categories are good sources of carbohydrates: Fruits: Fruits give you natural sugar that gives you instant energy. They improve your performance. Fruits help prevent diseases. Natural sugars: Dry fruits, such as raisins, apricots and dates are high on carbohydrates. They have a high natural sugar content, which releases energy steadily and slowly into the blood stream preventing fatigue. For sweetening of milk, lemon juice, herbal infusions and sweets, use stevia instead of white sugar or dry fruits or organic jaggery. You can use honey too if you are not diabetic. Grains: Opt for wholegrain as they boost stamina giving you a steady supply of performance boosting energy in the form of glucose and Vitamin B. Choose whole grains with a low glycemic index. You will be zestful throughout the day accomplishing more as glucose is slowly released in the blood stream. Sources are bajra, jowar, jau (barley), ragi nachni/millet, rajgira, unpolished basmati rice, oats, potato with skin, sweet potato, wholegrain bread, popcorn, buckwheat, whole wheat, wholegrain pasta. However beware of refined flour (maida). It does more damage than good. The whiter the bread, the sooner we are dead. Proteins The biomechanics of our brain chemicals are controlled by neuro transmitters which carry messages to and from our brains. They are made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, vital for strength. Popular sources of protien are pulses, tofu, cottage cheese, curd, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, chicken, and eggs. So get ready and stock up on beans, pulses, legumes and sprouts since they are excellent vegetarian sources of protein. If you are non-vegetarian opt for fish or eggs. Fat It is not the monster it has been made out to be. It is absolutely necessary for proficiency. The body requires essential fatty acids as the brain is made up of more than 60 per cent fat. Nerve cells in the brain are covered with a fatty myelin sheath that is crucial for quick transmission of messages. Omega 3: Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids needed for optimum performance. A lack of omega-3 in the diet can lead to poor capability. Good sources are walnuts, chia seeds, flax seed and oily fish, like bhangra, salmon and sardines. Walnuts are a preferred choice as they are easy to carry, more filling and can replace the bad snacks. Vitamins and minerals: They are needed to convert amino acids into these specialised neuro transmitters. Research also shows that the deficiency of Vitamin B12, D3, and iron can cause forgetfulness, fatigue and depression. Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. All parts of a plant are edible. Each part has different nutritional benefits which increases our energy, heals diseases, prevents constipation, and improves eyesight. Water:- Seventy per cent of our body is water. Further, water makes up over 80 per cent of blood which transports nutrients to the brain, eliminates toxins, keeps you alert, fights fatigue and improves concentration. Therefore hydrate yourself properly. It is important to consume at least eight glasses of water per day. Drinking colas, soft drinks, tea or coffee don’t count. Moderate tea/coffee: When it comes to people working at their optimal, they often look for short-term aides, found in caffeine or sugar. These foods give a person sudden spurts of energy, followed by depressing lows. This rollercoaster ride of “sugar highs” and “sugar blues” in the blood sugar level can stimulate neuro transmitter imbalance. Please restrict tea and coffee (without sugar) to not more than two or three cups a day. Sleep: Good sleep helps you to de-stress. It increases concentration; energy, and alertness and helps maintain emotional balance. Are you surprised? Don’t be, as lack of one day of sleep disturbs your ability to function by as much as 30 per cent .So early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Exercise: Walking, cycling, and dancing combined with yoga and plenty of sunlight boosts energy levels in the body. Exercising several times a week is a good workout for your body and mind. Move your body or lose your body. Some foods heal and some foods kill. A little awareness in choosing the right food would make a difference. Especially for those who want the extra edge in life!. Curd Mint Walnut Dip/ Spread/ Gravy/ Sauce Ingredients 6 full walnuts shelled 1 cup fresh curds beaten 3 tbsp mint, chopped 1 tbsp raisins, chopped finely Black salt to taste Method • Pound the walnuts. • Mix curds, salt, mint and raisins well. • Add pounded walnuts to the mixture and mix well. • Chill before serving. • Serve with sticks of carrots, beets, celery, with dry bread sticks or in your plate with your foodinstead of pickle. • Can be used as a sauce for whole wheat pasta. • Can be used as a spread on whole grain bread. • Can be used to toss potatoes in it. Bio : Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specialising in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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